Money is the symbol of happiness. Studies on human development show a good correlation between the level of wealth of a country, human development and the degree of happiness of citizens. However, a study carried out by the Autonomous University of Barcelona and McGill University in Canada reveals that many indigenous peoples and small isolated communities enjoy a very happy life, comparable to those in the richest countries, despite their poverty and not handle money. In reality, this apparent contradiction suggests that there are many ways to live life contentedly and that happiness is about more than just money. The question now is this: why are the people who live in these communities happy, alien to luxury, comfort, success and money?
Much has been written about this matter. In fact, there are many reasons that can explain happiness in those societies that function without money. Traditional societies often prioritize cohesion and interdependence. The members of these communities usually have strong social ties and a sense of belonging, all of which contribute decisively to the happiness of the group and of each individual. A second factor is the connection with the environment and nature. Indigenous communities often have a deep connection to the natural world, in which they often find meaning in their lives. Spending time outdoors, engaging in traditional practices, and living in harmony with nature can contribute to overall well-being and happiness. Furthermore, these societies are based on traditions and values that emphasize spirituality, gratitude, and collective well-being. The absence of materialistic objectives is also important. In many indigenous communities, material possessions and wealth are not prioritized as indicators of success or happiness. Instead, individuals can focus on spiritual goals, community well-being, and maintaining harmonious relationships with others and the natural world. And finally, there is minimal exposure to social pressures in these primitive communities. Traditional societies may be less affected by the stressors and pressures associated with Western lifestyles, such as job stress, consumerism, and social comparison. It is obvious that this less exposure to external pressures contributes to reducing anxiety and increasing the level of happiness in general.
To be honest, those responsible for this study recognize their inability to distinguish the factors that determine happiness in these very diverse primitive societies. They may be all of those mentioned above, or they may be more specific, and in each community the happiness of individuals has very specific reasons, different from those of other communities. Perhaps we should recognize that happiness is a very personal and subjective perception. While traditional societies may exhibit certain characteristics associated with higher levels of happiness, they also face their own challenges and complexities. Because not everything is happiness. We must not forget that life expectancy in these primitive societies is usually very low and that their survival as a society is in danger.
Ironically, seeking a high degree of satisfaction usually brings certain consequences, both psychological and social. To begin with, this awareness of the aspiration to be happy can generate frustration. Additionally, feeling too happy can make you less creative, and relax your sense of fear and risk until you despise your life. If everything is good, and there is no counterpart of negative emotions, you can lose the meaning of life and your place in the world. And it is possible that, if we all had the prize of the highest degree of satisfaction at the same time, society would fall apart.
* UCO professor